Religion is usually defined as a
cultural system of designated
behaviors and practices,
organizations, that generally relates humanity to
spiritual elements—although there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the
faith, and a supernatural being or beings.
Religious practices may include
sermons, commemoration or veneration (of
public service. Religions have
sacred histories and
narratives, which may be preserved in
holy places, that primarily aim to give life
meaning. Religions may contain symbolic tales that may attempt to explain the
origin of life, the
universe, and other phenomena; some followers believe these to be true stories. Traditionally, both faith and reason have been considered sources of religious beliefs.
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, though nearly all of them have regionally based, relatively small followings. Four religions—
Buddhism—account for over 77% of the world's population, and 92% of the world either follows one of those four religions or identifies as
nonreligious, meaning that the remaining 9,000+ faiths account for only 8% of the population combined. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion,
agnostics, although many in the demographic still have various religious beliefs. A portion of the population, mostly located in Africa and Asia, are members of
new religious movements. Scholars have indicated that
global religiosity may be increasing due to religious countries having generally higher birth rates.
study of religion comprises a wide variety of academic disciplines, including
philosophy of religion,
comparative religion, and social scientific studies.
Theories of religion offer various explanations for its origins and workings, including the
ontological foundations of religious
being and belief. (